University of Southern Indiana

Prepared for the worst

Prepared for the worst

4/2/2013 | University Communications

USI employees can rest assured that the Office of Public Safety is ready to respond in the event of a campus emergency or natural disaster.

Nine USI Public Safety employees recently completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training conducted by the Vanderburgh County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic emergency response skills. Using the knowledge gained in the classroom and the hand-on skills learned during simulation exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace when professional responders are not immediately available to help.

Public Safety Sergeants Tami Jaramillo Zuniga, Joyce Noelle, and Joshua Thomas; Officers Dustin Mellott, Kelly Hoover, and Robin Mallory; and Dispatchers Jeanetta Scott, Marjorie Cox, and Kara Wolf, participated in a 20-hour training program held on campus. Topics included disaster preparedness, fire suppression, medical operations, light search and rescue techniques, disaster psychology, and team organization. Participants learned how to manage utilities, put out small fires, open airways, control bleeding, treat shock victims, provide basic medical aid, search for and rescue victims safely, and organize spontaneous volunteers. 

“Parts of the program were a great review of how to respond when disaster strikes,” said Jaramillo Zuniga. “And other parts introduced new ideas and taught us how to effectively stay involved after emergency departments take over a situation.”

The group received yellow vests and badges to identify them as CERT volunteers. They also were given backpacks stocked with essential supplies including respirators, pry bars, duct tape, first-aid and medical supplies, colored tape for triage situations, dressing for wounds, and biohazard bags. CERT members are required to complete six hours of continuing education each year, maintain contact with the Vanderburgh County EMA, and be prepared to respond to an emergency anywhere in the county. They also are encouraged to support emergency response agencies by taking an active role in disaster preparedness projects in their communities. “Several of us are interested in helping in our neighborhoods after going through the training,” said Jaramillo Zuniga.

CERT offers a positive and realistic approach to emergency and disaster situations where citizens will initially be on their own and their actions can make a critical difference. “In a major disaster such as an earthquake where an entire area is damaged, CERT volunteers have the tools to help and be first-responders until city and state assistance arrives,” said Jaramillo Zuniga. “Becoming a CERT volunteer is also a great way to get involved in your community and make a difference.”

Steve Woodall, director of Public Safety, says all employees in the department will complete CERT training in the near future. “CERT educates and prepares individuals to help themselves and other members of the campus and local community in the event of a disaster or crisis,” he said.

Training programs are open to all University employees with a supervisor's approval. Contact the Office of Public Safety at 812/464-1845 to find out when the next session will be offered.  


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